When HTML5 was initially created, it entered into a market that was dominated by Flash. Most websites utilized the Flash player and many people used Flash for graphics, animation purpose, and even web development.
Flash made it simple to use various assets and integrate them in a way for people to interact with developers’ webpages. A large percentage of web-based games and videos used Flash. In fact, YouTube even used Flash exclusively until HTML5 was invented.
Even after HTML5 was introduced, Flash still had a 28.5% market share and was a preferred option for many developers. However, today the landscape of the market has changed and Flash is seldomly used. Developers have transitioned from Flash entirely and the most popular web browsers are planning to no longer support it in 2020. With support for Flash quickly disappearing, it’s important to analyze the differences between HTML5 and Flash and find out if the former serves as an appropriate replacement for the latter.
What is Flash?
Flash is a form of multimedia software created by Adobe. The software is widely used for a number of applications, such as animations, websites, desktop apps, mobile apps, and games.
Web developers may use this software to create graphics or display text on their website. With the Adobe Flash Player, it is possible to play video, music, or even allow people to play games on your webpage.
For years, Adobe Flash was the dominant form of multimedia software. After being released in the late 1990s, developers quickly adopted it. During that time, it was possible to spend countless hours playing a quickly developed Flash game or watching a simple animation that someone created. Some platforms, such as Newgrounds and YouTube thrived from the ubiquitous nature of the software.
The one key aspect of Flash was the fact that whatever you made, whatever you uploaded — everyone who viewed or interacted with it would have the same experience. People could play a game the same exact way on any number of devices.
The Downfall of Flash
In 2010, then-CEO of Apple Inc., Steve Jobs released a public letter, titled “Thoughts on Flash”, where he expressed his belief that HTML5 would win over Flash as more and more developers became less reliant on Adobe software. This started the downfall of Flash and it pointed out a lot of issues with the software. The following were some of the negative aspects of Flash that Steve Jobs pointed out:
- Flash wasn’t reliable or secure. The software put many users at risk and Jobs even said that Flash was the number-one reason for Macs crashing.
- Flash Player put an intense level of strain on the battery and drained them significantly faster than other forms of software. This became a much bigger issue when it came to mobile devices.
- Flash wasn’t created with touch-friendly interactivity in mind, which is again an issue for smartphone users, and Jobs noted that if content had to be remade anyway, there were better options on the market.
- HTML5 is open standard, but Flash was controlled by Adobe and they had complete authority over the growth, changes and pricing of the software at all times.
That open letter pointed out how Flash wasn’t prepared for the future advancements of technology. Specifically, Flash just wasn’t optimized for mobile users and the drain on resources it created made it difficult for developers to continue to invest in it. By 2012, not long after HTML5 was introduced, Flash was already on a downward trend and it would continue to become less relevant.
What are the Benefits of HTML5?
HTML5 was released initially in 2008 by the World Wide Web Consortium. A major update and the “W3C Recommendation” status occurred in October 2014, which has led to the current state of HTML5 that many developers use today.
Simply put, HTML is code that allows images to appear on a page. The code does more than make images appear though. HTML can be used to align images, change the format of text, fonts, and so much more. With HTML5, those capabilities have increased significantly and it has changed the way developers code their websites.
HTML5 addresses several of the issues Flash had for developers. For smartphone devices, HTML5 allows users to create complex effects and animations, detailed webpages, and much more. HTML5 also allowed users to avoid the issue of battery draining and it is used for both iOS and Android devices, while Flash is only compatible with Android.
There are so many overall improvements to HTML5 that it makes it difficult to not be utilised in this day and age. The advancements in web technology that HTML5 provides makes it a favorite for browser-makers and the continued growth of its support has made it difficult to ignore.
The following are just a few of the advantages that come with using HTML5 over Flash.
When it comes to coding, it is important for things to be organized. Organized code makes it easier for multiple developers to work on a web page or app and it allows simple changes to be made while reducing the chances of bugs or glitches.
This is a big change for people that need user input. HTML5 makes it easier to create more elegant and complex forms. It’s possible for users to provide different types of inputs or perform more complex searches in web browsers.
For developers and users alike, there are few things more difficult than a webpage loading slowly. HTML5 has an offline application cache, which allows pages to load even when users are temporarily offline. This lessens the load placed on servers and provides a faster overall load time for users.
Why are People Migrating to HTML5?
Today, a large percentage of people browse on their phones and HTML5 makes it easier for developers to reach their audience. Other companies began moving away from supporting Flash completely. Currently, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and Microsoft Edge all plan to remove Flash support from their browsers by the end of 2020.
In fact, Adobe itself ceased the development of Adobe Flash in 2011 in favor of creating tools that utilize HTML5. This was one of the first signs of Adobe slowly moving away from supporting the further development of Adobe Flash altogether. By the end of 2020, Flash will reach its end-of-life date and no longer be supported by Adobe.
Because of the complete removal of support, Flash is no longer useful for developers. While some users may take Flash as a software and use it to create graphics and animations, they won’t be able to seamlessly integrate it into their websites. In addition to this, the lack of support means that Flash will continue to be unsafe.
Continuing to use Flash puts users at risk. As people find more exploits in the software, it makes websites and other programs more difficult to protect. Because Adobe no longer supports Flash, exploits in the program will no longer be fixed. You also run the risk of being exploited further, because using Flash would mean no longer updating your browser.
Starting a Career in HTML5
For people who are new to coding, it’s possible to learn HTML5 and even start a career in it with a few months of training. Some developers may be afraid of the transition from Flash to HTML5, but many people have adjusted to the switch already and most web browsers have already moved away from it.
At one point, Flash was the definitive method of creating media and uploading it online. It paved the way for web developers, game designers, and mobile apps. However, as the market changed, especially with the transition towards mobile devices, people began finding the issues with Flash and realizing that there are better alternatives.
When it comes to HTML5 vs Flash, the battle is already over and the dust has settled. Flash is no longer supported and even Adobe has moved on to HTML5. Overall, HTML5 provides a better, fuller experience for users and developers.